• Register
  • Help
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11

Topic: Total beginner string composition questions

  1. #1

    Total beginner string composition questions

    I\'ve just started playing around with GPO and Sonar. Using a sequencer allows you to do so many crazy things, and it\'s such a different way of creating music that before I make some string parts that sound too unrealistic, I thought I would try and get some basic info from the people who know something about writing for strings.

    Do cellos/violins/violas play octaves and chords, like a guitar? Or do they just play single notes?

    What is meant by divisi? If you have 3 violins and one plays E, one plays G#, and one plays B to produce an E major chord, is that considered divisi? Or is it more like: one violin plays melody \"A\" while the other plays melody \"B\"?

    When a section plays a part in unison, are they usually playing at the same pitch as well?

    Thank you for the help

  2. #2

    Re: Total beginner string composition questions

    as a violinist i think i can answer at your questions.
    first of all, a violinist can play 2 or three strings exactly at the same time or as a guitar, playing at first the first string (generally the lower one) and then the others. It\'s quite common to play two strings together while it\'s possible to play three strings but just for a short time and generally with a \"strong\" attacco becuase it\'s necessary a certain preassure on the bow to make it touching all the three strings.
    Generally a \"divisi\" is when some players, like the 2nd violists, who generally play the same notes, at a certain point play different notes. It can be that are divisi in 2 subsection or more, it depends. This can be done to do a chord, as you said, or in \"contrappunto\" when they start playing different melodies.
    In unison all play at the same pitch.
    i hope my answers can help you.
    good luck for your music
    Michael [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

  3. #3

    Re: Total beginner string composition questions

    They can play octaves and chords, but to a limited degree--I would recommend getting an orchestration book (Adler\'s is fairly complete and up-to-date) to help you figure out what\'s possible and what\'s not. Better yet, find string players and talk to them yourself.

    When a string player plays two notes simultaneously, it is called a double stop. Typically, the two notes must be on adjacent strings, and close enough in range that the left hand can finger both notes without having to stretch impossibly. (If one of the notes is played on an open string, then obviously any distance is possible, since only one note has to be fingered).

    When a string player plays three notes simultaneously, it is called a triple stop. Because the strings are not in a straight line, , \' \' , it is impossible for a flat bow to play three strings simultaneously, so the player will roll, or arpeggiate the chord (from the bottom up if not specified otherwise).

    If a composer writes a two-note sonorrity or chord in a string part, he/she should specify whether it should be played divisi (just write \"div.\" -- sometimes \"div a2\" or \"div a4\" etc. to specify how many parts to divide into), or as double/triple stops (write \"non. div\"). In cases where extra clarity is needed, double/triple stops can be written with a bracket ] connecting the two notes, to make it clearer.

    Double and triple (and quadruple) stops are common, but you should avoid using many of them back-to-back, as they require complex and awkward changes of fingering. Also, be sure that the ones you use are possible and practical.

    Regarding your question on divisi -- both of your examples count as divisi--as long as one staff is divided into two or more individual parts, it is divisi.

    Unison technically means that the entire section is playing the same notes, although sometimes it may just mean that they\'re playing all together, perhaps in octaves or thirds. If you see \"unis\" in a string part, it is usually there to cancel out a previous \"divisi\" marking and indicate that the players should return to normal play.

    There are more technicalities and subtleties, but this should answer your questions. I\'d recommend an orchestration book and buddying up with some string players. Or just buy a cheap violin and experiment for yourself.

    Hope this was helpful,

  4. #4

    Re: Total beginner string composition questions

    I am currently looking for a good book -Those we\'re two of the best answers I\'ve ever received to a question in a forum
    Thanks a bunch!

  5. #5

    Re: Total beginner string composition questions

    The Adler book mentioned is the definitive bible -- Samual Adler, Principles of Orchestration. Expensive... and worth it.

  6. #6

    Re: Total beginner string composition questions

    VERY much worth the price. You will, however, gain much from sitting down with the instrumentalist you intend to write for and asking him/her to play through some of the stuff mentioned in the Adler book. It\'s hard to really understand everyithing Adler says without having an interactive \"demo\" at your side.

  7. #7

    Re: Total beginner string composition questions

    Boy, that would be great!

    For those of us who can\'t have someone live, they also sell companion CDs to the Adler book which have nearly every example played by the appropriate instruments (also pricey, but I guess less expensive than hiring the musicians for a day :&gt

  8. #8

    Re: Total beginner string composition questions

    [ QUOTE ]
    When a section plays a part in unison, are they usually playing at the same pitch as well?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    If they\'re good players, yes. If they\'re not, probably not. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

    (I\'m a violist, so kindly withhold all viola jokes!)

  9. #9

    Re: Total beginner string composition questions

    Some one brought up that it would be neat to have a violinist sit there with you and go over different articulations and the like, well here\'s something very close:

    Orchestration Page

    Some one posted it a few months ago (maybe even a year). It\'s a really neat website that has videos of players from the Philharmonia Orchestra going over their instruments, and especially addressing composers. I haven\'t even looked at the whole website (there\'s just too much!), but the string videos are neat.

  10. #10

    Re: Total beginner string composition questions

    Yes, Adler\'s book is the easiest to read, but I would recommend the accompaning CDs that have demos of the musical examples given in the book. That is a BIG help! The whole package is hard to find now (and expensive!) but the publisher should be able to provide these extra materials. It is usually sold as a \'package\' with a workbook and CDs.

Go Back to forum


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts